By: Alden Abbott (Truth on the Market)
The recent launch of the international Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force (MPMTF) is just the latest example of burgeoning cooperative efforts by leading competition agencies to promote convergence in antitrust enforcement. (See my recent paper on the globalization of antitrust, which assesses multinational cooperation and convergence initiatives in greater detail.) In what is a first, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division, offices of state Attorneys General, the European Commission’s Competition Directorate, Canada’s Competition Bureau, and the U.K.’s Competition and Market Authority (CMA) jointly created the MPMTF in March 2021 “to update their approach to analyzing the effects of pharmaceutical mergers.”
To help inform its analysis, in May 2021 the MPMTF requested public comments concerning the effects of pharmaceutical mergers. The MPMTF sought submissions regarding (among other issues) seven sets of questions:
- What theories of harm should enforcement agencies consider when evaluating pharmaceutical mergers, including theories of harm beyond those currently considered?
- What is the full range of a pharmaceutical merger’s effects on innovation? What challenges arise when mergers involve proprietary drug discovery and manufacturing platforms?
- In pharmaceutical merger review, how should we consider the risks or effects of conduct such as price-setting practices, reverse payments, and other ways in which pharmaceutical companies respond to or rely on regulatory processes?
- How should we approach market definition in pharmaceutical mergers, and how is that implicated by new or evolving theories of harm?
- What evidence may be relevant or necessary to assess and, if applicable, challenge a pharmaceutical merger based on any new or expanded theories of harm?
- What types of remedies would work in the cases to which those theories are applied?
- What factors, such as the scope of assets and characteristics of divestiture buyers, influence the likelihood and success of pharmaceutical divestitures to resolve competitive concerns?
My research assistant Andrew Mercado and I recently submitted comments for the record addressing the questions posed by the MPMTF. We concluded:..